We decorated the Christmas tree three days before Christmas, and for a moment it was too much: the ornaments, the couches, the acrylic afghan, the coffee table. I called Cassidy that night, nearly in tears, and I said that I needed to remind myself that this isn't my life, this is just vacation. And at first, he didn't understand. He thought I wanted to stay, that it was hard to realize that I would have to go back to Iowa. But it's my life in Iowa that keeps me safe when I'm there. And when he understood, he asked, What's so much better about Iowa?
I said, I'm not who I was.
The day after Christmas, I was standing up to my waist again in (not quite) freezing water, thinking about how I was here, exactly, one year ago. Singing to myself.
It's the song I sing when drunk dish-washing, the song I used to sing while setting up the darkroom in Berkeley, the song I used to listen to while sitting on my roof at night when I was sixteen years old. It was on a mix tape that a girl in my social studies class made me because she knew how much I liked Tori Amos. And then it was on a mix CD that M gave me for Christmas, right before we broke up: a spectacular gift, a perfect gift. If it could have been enough, I would have stayed.This house is like Russia
With eyes cold and gray
You got me movin' in a circle
I dyed my hair red today
There are other songs I sing while drunk dish-washing. Newer songs, from college, from after college, from a few months ago.
If I didn't know better, I'd hang my hat right there
If I didn't know better, I'd follow you up the stairs
But still, no matter how many years or songs I put between me and that girl on the roof, I find that my moments in life are still narrated by the same voice in my head. It's funny, because one of the flaws of being a teenager is the belief that everything is always and forever. We are supposed to be proven wrong. And I have been. I was wrong. I'm not who I was. But I wasn't entirely wrong. Some things last longer than I ever could have known.